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Road Rights- Be a Fearless Leader

You may be taking legal responsibility when you organize a group ride. Here’s what you need to know.

By Bob Mionske

In the eyes of the law, there’s a difference between participating in a sport and riding your bike to work, to school, or going on a solo ride. The act of joining a group ride as a sporting activity means that all participants have made an implied assumption of risk. They cannot be held liable to each other for ordinary negligence involving the inherent risks of the sport of cycling. In other words, if two cyclists accidentally collide on a group ride, for instance, it’s considered a risk they both assumed, even if it happened because one of them made a mistake.

But depending on the type of role you take on when you organize a ride, you may be putting yourself at risk for liability. Here are some things that you can do to limit that possibility.

DEFINE YOUR ROLE
If you simply say, “Let’s ride on Saturday at 9 a.m.,” then you may be considered a co-participant, with little or no risk of liability. But the more control you exercise (such as picking­ the route or offering advice), the more likely your role could be interpreted as that of a road captain or coach—which might mean that you are no longer shielded from responsibility.

KEEP IT MELLOW
Make the ride cooperative, not competitive, and avoid pushing the limits of the riders.

RELEASE YOURSELF
If you’re concerned that you might be considered an event organizer under the law, then do what race promoters do: Have riders sign a release drafted by an attorney with an express assumption of risk and waiver of liability. This means the riders agree that they will not hold you responsible for any injuries arising from the ­inherent risks of the sport.

BUY INSURANCE
If you’re running a large or reoccurring ride and have assets to protect, consider taking out liability insurance as an extra precaution. Your regular­ insurance agent can help, or you can look for a sports-insurance professional.

Research and assistance by Rick Bernardi, J.D.

 

This article, Be a Fearless Leader, was originallyt puyblished on Bicycling on September 13, 2012.

Now read the fine print:
Bicycle and the Law, Bob MionskeBob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championship road race.
After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske's practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc).
Mionske is also the author of Bicycling and the Law, designed to be the primary resource for cyclists to consult when faced with a legal question. It provides readers with the knowledge to avoid many legal problems in the first place, and informs them of their rights, their responsibilities, and what steps they can take if they do encounter a legal problem.
 
If you have a cycling-related legal question, please send it to mionskelaw@hotmail.com Bob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions each week to answer in this column. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.
Important notice:
The information provided in the "Road Rights" column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.

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